For a new series of articles for the blog I’ve turned question master and I’ve started sending out questions to the great and the good of the CFZ and our friends. I’m sending them out in alphabetically ordered chunks over the next few weeks and I really hope that most people who get the questions emailed to them will take the time to complete them as I’m really looking forward to seeing lots of really interesting and varied replies.
First of all, I’ll kick things off by answering my own questions. If you are picturing this being done in reality, to prevent the need for confusing time paradoxes, bi-location or some other form of jiggery-pokery to have me in two places at once, you can imagine me being interviewed by the ghost of Bob Monkhouse (hey, it’s my imaginary quiz; I can do what I like).
1) How did you first become interested in cryptozoology?
Not long after I had started school - I must have been around 5 years old - I saw a cartoon on children’s BBC called The Family Ness. To my 5-year-old mind this was a thing of wonder and much better than the other television shows I’d seen at this point, which usually consisted of shoddy puppetry (Orm and Cheap) or quite frankly sinister-looking men dressed up as dogs but fooling no-one (The Chuckle Hounds), so naturally I was hooked. I started reading at a very early age so by the age of 6 was a regular in the children’s section of the local library and the books I was most interested in reading usually involved monsters in some way, shape or form. I don’t recall the name of the book that I found one day, but it was one of those ‘unsolved mysteries’ style books aimed at children. Among the stories of UFOs, ghosts, Jack the Ripper and the Zodiac Killer (yes, in a book aimed at the under tens!) the Loch Ness monster made an appearance. From that point on all hope that I would grow up to be a lawyer or an economist was lost, I guess.
2) Have you ever personally seen a cryptid or secondary evidence of a cryptid, if so can you please describe your encounter?
Yes, yes I have. As is the nature of pure dumb luck it didn’t happen when I was on an expedition or scouring the waters of some mountain lake, but when I went for a picnic with my step-grandmother to a local park called Cosmeston Lakes. Cosmeston used to be a quarry and the pit was filled in with water and environs landscaped in the late 1970s to make a pleasant and beautiful country park, but perhaps the last place you would expect to see something extraordinary. But it was there I saw an enormous dragonfly. The creature had a light brown body and a wingspan of around one foot; far larger than any dragonfly that should be around today, least of all in Britain. Being a biology student at university at the time I knew that I would have to be damn sure about this thing’s dimensions before I told any of my lecturers. Luckily the thing had been flying over some water hyacinth so I had been able to count how many of the plants it had covered and get a fairly accurate estimate of the size.
3) Which cryptids do you think are the most likely to be scientifically discovered and described some day, and why?
Afanc; Welsh water monsters that look similar to crocodiles and grow to large sizes. They are likely not crocodiles but rather giant pike. One lake reputedly home to these beasts since the dark ages is Llangorse Lake near Brecon in South Wales, where I obtained a photograph of an 18-inch pike skull. The pike would have been over 6 foot long.
4) Which cryptids do you think are the least likely to exist?
The water leaper or Llamhigyn Y Dwr is paticularly unlikely to exist due to the fact that it was a creative folklore creation invented by a chap called Han Owen.
5) If you had to pick your favourite cryptozoological book (not including books you may have written yourself) what would you choose?
It’s a tough choice between Karl Shuker’s Extraordinary Animals Revisited and Jon’s book Monster of the Mere. I’ll probably go for Monster of the Mere… If you’ve not read it I suggest you give it a try.